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title:“Newspaper Report of Pennsylvania Convention Proceedings”
date written:1787-12-7

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 7:57 a.m. UTC
retrieved:May 20, 2022, 4:22 p.m. UTC

"Newspaper Report of Pennsylvania Convention Proceedings." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 2. Ed. Gaspare J. Saladino and John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 1976. 524-25. Print.

Newspaper Report of Pennsylvania Convention Proceedings (December 7, 1787)

It was said in the Convention, that the opposition conceived every man would be possessed by a daemon who had any share in the administration of the proposed government; to which Mr. Smilie answered, that in framing a political system it was proper to presume that every person in power would do wrong if he could; and therefore every restraint should be provided, for if the rulers were honest, no harm was done, but if they were otherwise, a security was obtained against their machinations.
The Convention has again returned to one meeting in each day. The first Article of the proposed Constitution having been fully discussed, the second, respecting the executive power was yesterday taken into consideration. As the whole of the plan has in a great degree been investigated in the argument on the first Article, it is supposed that the Convention will breakup in the course of the ensuing week.
Yesterday Mr. Wilson entered into an investigation of the judiciary power contained in the proposed Constitution, and asserted, that so far from unnecessary or improper, it was a valuable and indispensable acquisition to the federal government. He observed that, bad as human nature was, it could hardly be presumed that the governors would act improperly without an object. In every case therefore where they could have an interest in the oppression of a citizen, the trial by jury is to be inviolably preserved. With respect to treason, like- wise, he remarked that the definition of that crime, which had been always a prolific instrument of tyranny, was not left to the Congress, but was ascertained in the Constitution itself. He then proceeded to examine the different points of jurisdiction given to the Supreme Court, and concluded with declaring that they were all essential to public and private credit and the impartial administration of justice.
It was argued by the opponents of the proposed plan, that the independency of the judges was not secured, for if any law were passed contrary to the Constitution, and they should refuse to execute it, the House of Representatives and the Senate, who made the law, would impeach them, and then it would be the duty of the Senate to determine whether or not the law was unconstitutional and whether the judges were not bound by it. Mr. Wilson on this occasion asserted that the judges would be governed by the Constitution and not by the contradicting law, which would be ipso facto, nugatory and void. Query, whether the same doctrine has been held in the Supreme Court or Pennsylvania.

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